Ecological Bike Lubrication and Backcountry Soap Options
Subject: Ecological bike lubrication and backcountry soap options
Date: Fri, 04 May 2001
From: Art Ludwig
> It is good to know that you like bikes as an
> environmentally friendly solution to some of the our
> environmental problems and that you are designing
> greywater solutions as well.
> I really love to camp in the backcountry and like to be
> as mimimalistic as possible in terms of gear taken and
> impact on the surroundings. I'm hoping you may have some
> good ideas and suggestions for the following scenarios.
> Let's say you are out on a multi-day mountain biking trip
> in the back country. Do you have any suggestions for how
> to clean and grease/lube your bike in a way that would
> not have any negative impacts on the environment? Are
> their chain lubes, greases, sprays etc. that will lube
> the bike but, that will not cause any problems for the
> ground, plants or water when they are cleaned on a trip
> such as this? Or, when they come off some how through
> possible dripping or rubbing off on something?
> Also, while we're at it, since it is a camping trip as
> well and, since this has been a question on my mind as
> far as bathing is concerned in the outdoors, how do you
> suggest that people bath and take care of things like
> bath, dish and clothes cleaning water in a scenario like
> this with out having negative impacts. Are there any
> cleaning soaps for bathing, dishes and clothes washing
> out on the market that when dumped on the ground have no
> bad effects on the water, ground and plants etc. and can
> you name these products? What effects do natural body
> oils and salts have on the environment when cleaned off
> of the body by straight water alone and then just dumped
> on the ground? I would think the impact is negligible.
> However, we obviously have to contend with certain
> amounts of fecal matter whether soap is used or not. What
> about the effects of these small amounts? Mind you, one
> must consider I suppose, the possibility of larger groups
> of campers bathing, dish and clothes washing as well.
> What should be done in a situation with larger groups?
> (I've heard of Joe Jenkins book The Humanure Handbook and
> read some of it on-line. I've been e-mail corresponding
> with him off and on . He has some interesting and good
> ideas applicable to both backcountry and more "civilized"
> situations I think. Have you heard of him and read his
> The above scenarios are obviously a low-tech and more
> primitive type situation in which you don't have
> pressurized running water in pipes and plumbing. As such,
> there may be some far easier solutions because there
> maybe more possibilities for a "less is more" approach
> here. At least, I hope so and, I think there is more of a
> chance for this to be so because in a situation where
> you are in the backcountry you don't have to be dealing
> with effects of overdone industrialization etc.
> I hope this last part makes sense. Anyway, any ideas,
> suggestion, solutions to the above would be greatly
I suggest you use "Break Free CLP." Not of very high
ecological pedigree, but extremely effective, and most
importantly, effective in doses so small it is not
really worth worrying about what is in it. I did an
experiment riding my bike 1-2 feet deep in sandy salt water
every day for a year, and used less than an ounce of
this stuff lubing every part of the bike every day...an
amount which would probably last for 100 years of regular
use. (BTW, I still am riding this same bike, twenty
Here's an article about backcountry washing: Wild Water Wisdom (article).
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